A Montana jury has ordered Hyundai to pay $240 million in punitive damages over a 2011 crash that killed two teenage cousins.
According to the lawsuit, the 2005 Hyundai Tiberon that 19-year-old Trevor Olson was driving had a defective steering knuckle, causing him to lose control of the car and veer into oncoming traffic. The Tiberon hit another vehicle, killing 21-year-old Stephanie Nicole Parker-Shepherd and severely injuring her husband and two children. Both Trevor and his 14-year-old cousin Tanner, who was a passenger, were killed.
The punitive damages ordered by the jury are in addition to $8.6 million in actual damages and lost earnings. According to Bloomberg, the total $248 million verdict is the largest judgment Hyundai has ever faced because of a product defect. It is also one of the top five largest jury awards in the United States so far this year.
"One. Did the Olson Hyundai Tiburon contain a manufacturing defect in the right front steering knuckle? Answer: Yes," said Judge Kim Christopher, as reported by local CBS News affiliate KPAX. "Proceeding to question two…was the defect the cause of the accident on July 2, 2011? Answer: Yes…Did Hyundai Motor Company act with actual malice such as to warrant punitive damages? Answer: Yes."
KPAX reports that the families had initially sought damages of only $160 million. Hyundai is likely to appeal the ruling.
If you or your family member has been injured or killed because of a product defect in Missouri, you may have the right to seek damages from the company that manufactured and sold the product and should contact experienced lawyers as soon as possible. The Kansas City attorneys at Meyers Law Firm can assess your claim and help you recover any civil damages to which you may be entitled.